How to Improve Internal Communication on The Shop Floor
Every manufacturing facility depends on good communication in order to survive and thrive. A study by Forrester Consulting revealed that senior production managers are well aware of the problems that poor communication causes:
- 77% said that it causes their company to miss deadlines
- 75% said that it leads to decreased customer satisfaction
- 68% said that it unnecessarily inflates production costs
With so much to lose, it is vital that manufacturers understand how information flows within their facilities and how shop floor control software can help to optimize this critical aspect of their operations.
The Information Silo: How Communication Falls Apart
When internal communication in production floor contexts depends on workers physically speaking to each other or using external chat solutions. In such instances, information rarely circulates in an optimal fashion. In many factories, individual departments largely keep to themselves and interact very little with the other teams around them. When this happens, an information silo develops – critical knowledge never makes it out of the department where it originated, even when it would be extremely useful to others in the same organization.
Information silos are not an intentional attempt to hurt the organization’s productivity, but that is still their ultimate result. Maintaining constant production at consistent quality levels requires crystal-clear, moment-to-moment communication across multiple shifts and between all departments on the floor. Simple word-of-mouth exchanges could never provide that level of reliability, and that was true even before COVID-19 made face-to-face communication a risky prospect. Now, manufacturers have no choice but to explore other options for the sake of employee safety. The solution to all of these problems is to carry out your internal conversations digitally instead of in person.
Make Internal Communication Digital And Improve Reactivity With Production Floor Control Software
Digitizing internal communication in a factory also opens up new sources of information, which in turn increases the speed at which your operations can move. Many workplaces use Whatsapp chats to facilitate discussions between their workers. This makeshift solution functions adequately for simple one-on-one or group chats, but it pales in comparison to tools that are optimized for use on the factory floor. With the right digital system in place all communication flows smoothly in the context of production, around specific machines and processes, which promotes a more fruitful collaboration than regular Whatsapp chats could provide.
The reality of manufacturing is that machine-to-human communication is just as important as human-to-human communication in production floor contexts. Shop floor control software not only keeps all your workers in contact with each other at all times during their shift – it also receives constant feedback from all your machines and production lines.
You’ll know immediately when something goes wrong with any of the factory’s machines, be able to pinpoint underperforming machines or crews, be notified of impending materials shortages before they happen, and much more. This feedback can be accessed by employees as well and is given in addition to human-generated messages concerning work instructions, new initiatives, best practices, and other key pieces of knowledge.
When such a system is in place, employees will always know what is expected of them, even during times of rapid change. Likewise, managers will always know about developing production problems before they can turn into critical work stoppages. Those workers then have the opportunity to take initiative and work proactively on the factory floor instead of waiting for production to stall or a disaster to strike.
This high level of transparency allows for greater individual accountability and targeted, highly effective factory management techniques. Getting constant feedback allows you to steadily improve KPIs and overall shop floor productivity and quickly compensate for any faltering performance areas in real-time.
Make All Information Accessible And Empower Your Employees
A digital communication system makes it easier to tap into a worker’s knowledge, an underutilized asset in many manufacturing organizations. These people are often the first to know when any disruptions take place, and they may be the only witnesses to the exact events that happened at the time. Manufacturing management software allows them to share their observations and insights with their superiors in a way that is documented and archived for future reference. One person or team’s knowledge then becomes common knowledge within your facility, allowing you to build a powerful store of strategies for future use.
If everyone is on the team is also on the same page, so to speak, you have a much better chance of delivering a quality product on time on your first attempt, and that is the kind of performance that every factory strives for.
The best way to optimize information sharing is through the integration of a Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI) solution that is job-based to facilitate shop-floor communication. By clustering communication based on the job, stakeholders have the contextual relevancy of the messages right in front of them, facilitating their ability to understand the problem and respond quickly before it impacts operations. Since RtOI solutions store historical communication, they also make it possible for shop-floor management to analyze past events or refer back to them when necessary, enhancing their ability to optimize operations in the long run.
Be proactive. Be productive.
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Get the One Tool You Need for Better Communication in Your Manufacturing Facility
Among its many other functions, shop floor analytics software makes it much easier for ideas to circulate within a factory and important alerts to be sent out automatically to all relevant stakeholders. Matics’ agile manufacturing software is built with the factory floor in mind and serves as a hub of information that will keep the entire facility in the loop and improve the location’s performance as a result. Contact us today to speak to an expert about getting our industry-leading solution in place in your factory today – it’s so easy that you can do it yourself in just a few hours’ time.